De Niro will play Max Barber, a man in debt to a mob boss (played by Freeman), who creates an insurance fraud by casting washed-up, suicidal cowboy/movie star Duke Montana (Jones) in a poorly written Western with the intention of killing him during the first days of filming. Duke somehow rises to the occasion, redeems his past misdeeds and brings Max and others along on the same journey.
Josh Posner co-wrote the screenplay, which is based on the 1970s film of the same name, written, directed and produced by the late Harry Hurwitz. Lensing is due to begin in June in New Mexico.
Storyboard Media will launch sales on the project at the Cannes film market next week. Donald Pembrick and Dean Fronk are handling casting.
Producers are Steven Tyler Sahlein, March On Productions’ Richard Salvatore (The Big Wedding), and David Ornston, along with Joy Sirott Hurwitz and Julie Lott Gallo. The film is being financed and executive produced by Empire Media Partners’ Justin Calvillo and John DeMarco, Storyboard Media’s Philip Kim, Patrick Hibler, and Elisabeth Costa de Beauregard, along with Ben Ruedinger and Joerg Fischer.
Gallo and De Niro’s relationship goes back to 1988 action-comedy Midnight Run. Screenwriter and painter Gallo, well known for his writing on the Bad Boys franchise, most recently directed The Poison Rose, produced by Salvatore and Ornston and starring Freeman and John Travolta. The film is being released by Lionsgate over Memorial Day weekend.
Gallo and Posner are repped by Industry Entertainment and Gang, Tyre, Ramer, Brown and Passman. De Niro is represented by CAA and Grubman Shire Meiselas & Sacks P.C. Jones is represented by CAA and Jacobson, Russell, Saltz, Nassim & de la Torre, LLP. Freeman is represented by CAA and Sloane, Offer, Weber and Dern, LLP.
Empire Media Partners, producers Sahlein and Salvatore, and executive producers Calvillo and DeMarco are represented by Harris Tulchin of Harris Tulchin & Associates.